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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Posthumous poems bring the beauty of the everyday into focus.
By ANGIE DROBNIC HOLAN
Published April 15, 2007
The Movie of Us captures a cinematic landscape of language. The poems are scenes sketched out in the cool blues and grays of a lake photographed just after sunset or just before dawn.
The subjects -- family, popular culture, 9/11 -- are highly accessible to the average reader. The Telling is a meditation on actors. In UFO, a father remembers an alien abduction in calm cadences
One of those clear nights the whole sky a jewelry case I almost dozed off from the spell when I seen it just ahead of me.
Another poem is a lamentation for the fate of Matthew Shepard, the gay teen killed in Wyoming. With its ambiguous speaker -- the victim or some sort of accomplice? -- it subtly evokes collective guilt while dwelling in the specific
Why did I let them I should have seen it at the bar, how trouble was trapped inside the sleeve, next to the smokes.
Clarke divided his collection into four parts. The first focuses on family life, the second on adult life and pop culture, while the third is explicitly concerned with the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
These poems blend large and small concerns: Some ponder what lies at the heart of men such as Osama bin Laden and John Walker Lindh, while another is about a phone call with a brother in which they grapple with fear and memories. A coda called Sea-Gazing brings back the poet's fascination with water and family.
Editor Donald Morrill speculates that the final section he titled Sequels and Outtakes may have been the seeds for a second volume that will never come to pass, due to Clarke's death at age 48 in 2002. They are like extra features on a DVD, an appropriate treat after the main feature. The Movie of Us, though, is a book of surprising power and beauty that stands on its own as a first and final collection.
Angie Drobnic Holan is a Times news researcher
The Movie of Us By Kevin Jeffery Clarke University of Tampa Press, 126 pages, $20